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OP-ED: No smoking, please

  • Published at 02:54 pm August 27th, 2020
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Putting out the cigarette for a healthier Bangladesh

Smoking is extremely harmful for the vital organs of the human body, and it can lead to premature death. According to the World Health Organization, “tobacco consumption, in any form, kills more than 161,000 people on average every year, amounting to around 19% of all deaths in Bangladesh.” 

Moreover, it has been reported that cigarettes contain 7,000 chemical substances out of which 70 chemical substances are cancer-causing substances. During a pandemic, smoking becomes even riskier. 

Dhaka is home to over 21 million people. Now, this ample population, which includes office-goers, university students, and business people, many of whom cannot make time to prepare food for themselves, rely on restaurants. Even the people who remain at home go to restaurants with family and friends for recreational activities.

The Dhaka Ahsania Mission (DAM) conducted a cross-sectional survey in 371 restaurants in Dhaka City in the month of June in 2019. It was found that 98% of the restaurants were not complying with the tobacco control (TC) law. 

DAM organized an online zoom meeting with Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) high officials and Bangladesh Restaurant Owners Association (BROA) authorities and is in the process of having the same kind of meeting this month with Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) high-up officials. 

This is regarding the Dhaka City Restaurant Baseline Survey which was conducted to check the compliance of the tobacco control law of Dhaka city restaurants. 

The fact that 98% of Dhaka restaurants are not complying with the tobacco control law is a matter of great concern. According to Section 4 of the Bangladesh Tobacco Control law, smoking is prohibited in restaurants.

It is also mentioned that the owners/supervisors/managers would have to keep their public places and public transport completely smoking free. 

This law clearly shows that it is the responsibility of the owners/supervisors/managers to keep their restaurants (which fall under public places) completely smoke-free, not to mention that they are going to be held accountable if any TC law is not complied with. 

It is also compulsory for all public places and public transport to display the highest cautionary signage. However, according to the survey, 92% of restaurants were seen to not have any kinds of cautionary signage. 

This survey result shows that the restaurants are not taking the matter of “no smoking” seriously.

The Chief Health Officer of DNCC said that the city corporation should take stern actions against those Dhaka City restaurants which do not abide by the tobacco control law. Journalists can cover the story with more recent statistics in order to bring the issue to the attention of the government so that they implement the tobacco control law more strictly. It would also raise awareness amongst the people at the same time. 

This would also be a step forward towards achieving the national goal which Honourable Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina herself earlier announced, of having a tobacco-free Bangladesh by 2040. 

Muhammed Rubayet is currently working as Media Manager, Dhaka Ahsania Mission Health Sector (Tobacco Control Project).  

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